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Sunday, November 7, 2010

A thought about Navisworks, #BIM and Clash Detection

I have client in Fort Lauderdale looking for a Revit MEP specialist. As I was forwarding him an email from a reader of mine who was interested in the job, I started reading his email about his experience with Revit and Navisworks.

When I was writing the email, I explained that Navisworks was for clash detection, knowing that this engineering firm had never heard of Navisworks. It was then that a thought occurred to me. Exactly when was it that it became the contractor's responsibility to make sure that everything fits into the ceiling and doesn't clash?

At what point in time did architects and engineers stop checking their plans and stop coordinating what they were designing. It seems a little odd to me that such a critical part of the process of designing buildings would be to make sure that they are buildable and no one seems to be doing that anymore.

Did owners stop expecting to get 100% CDs and start expecting to pay 5 to 20% more than the budgeet to the contractor to pay for the errors and omissions on the plans? Did this just happen overnight? How exactly does a firm get repeat business when every job is over budget?

Why is it that so many architecture and engineering firms still today feel that it is acceptable to provide only 2D docummentation as if it's OK to provide the owner with incomplete drawings. It would seem that now that software technology like Revit is available, A&E firms would want to do the responsible thing and prevent all of the problems that plague every job. Do you think you can just continue to provide CAD plans and the owners continue to accept this?

As myself and others educate more and more owners and contractors as to the benefits of BIM, those who lag behind on the technology curve are really going to have a problem catching up. I see the biggest issue is one of personnel. CAD operators just won't cut it in a BIM world. Revit requires an investment in software, hardware, training and implementation. Do you think a CAD firm is really going to get all of that for free, especially when resellers are busy working with firms that are willing to make the investmment?

The workflow, process, coordination, sharing of documents and informmation needed for BIM, LEED, VDC and IPD are not easy to learn on your own and could take years to try. Good luck trying. It's said to see the failure of an industry especially as it now seems that things are starting to pick up again. There is no free ride and there are limited tickets to ride the BIM train.

Maybe someday soon owners will be paying 10% for designs done with BIM and 1% to firms using CAD so they can pay the contractors the difference to convert CAD to BIM for construction. That would sure change your CADditude wouldn't it?

2 comments:

T.Barrett November 8, 2010 at 12:06 PM  

Great post! I have also wondered when it suddenly became the GC's responsibility to do all the coordination. I am a registered architect who now works for a large construction company and even the guys in my office can't answer this question.

I was taught, as an architect, that it was our responsibility to coordinate our design with our consultants and I think this still happens to some degree. Personally, I would always determine and set overhead design zones for our MEP consultants. However, overhead coordination by the GC is not a new concept, that's why those light tables in the trailer were once used for overlaying 2D shops to figure out conflicts.

I think as a whole the industry is shifting and the design side is being seen more as just providing design intent and the GC is becoming more responsible for figuring out how to make it happen. I've heard from more than one architect in my time, "Oh don't worry about figuring that out, it's a means and methods issue, let the GC do it".

Going forward IPD will blur these lines a little more as coordination will hopefully take place by both sides working together from the beginning.

Anonymous,  November 10, 2010 at 11:54 PM  

"At what point in time did architects and engineers stop checking their plans and stop coordinating what they were designing."

Don't over generalize. It's still possible to produce good 2D CD's resulting in change orders well under the industry average. As you know, Architects drive this industry. As an MEP Engineer, I can't use BIM if the Architect doesn't. I had BIM YEARS before any of my Arch clients had it. Waiting to be first. Pushing them to try it before the train leaves the station.

I agree that (CAD) drafters will be all but extinct. They will be left drafting small non-BIM projects.

_Most_ clients/building owners are relatively small, and want a building, not a set of BIM files. They are not that sophisticated. When is the last time you saw up-to-date as-builts? And you think the majority of owners will embrace BIM? Na, just the large corporate owners, and smart contractors of course...

And BIM is not that cost effective for remodeling projects when you already have 2D CAD files, unless there are unusual conditions.

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